Search. SEO. Landing pages.
Do these words give you the heebie jeebies?
At a small business, there's so much going on that it's hard to step back and think about where you rank in a Google search. Without the money to hire an in-house SEO specialist, you're on your own.
What's a small business to do?
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to ensure you'll appear when someone is searching for your products and services... and they have very little to do with keywords and links.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't learn the basics of SEO. But if you haven't quite found the time to pick up a book or read a guide, we can help.
Here are 7 things you can do:
1. Get a Decent Website
The absolute best thing you can do for SEO is to get a good website. It needs to be fast, responsive on mobile, and full of relevant information that your customers need (if you're a restaurant, you need to post your hours!).
Here are some things to think about for your site:
Information-- Are you providing the info your customers and clients need?
Speed-- If the pages on your site take too long to load, you'll lose visibility.
Content-- Do you have a blog or other pages where you can update content?
Responsiveness-- Can visitors easily read and interact with your website on mobile devices?
If you're not a web developer, these things seem impossible. How is a healthcare consultant supposed to create a responsive site!?
Thanks to websites like Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix, and Shopify, anything is possible. These hosting platforms automatically help you optimize your site for search, speed, and mobile responsiveness. They allow you to easily fill in title tags and meta-descriptions (that's what appears when someone searches for you) for each page on your site.
2. Get Listed
It's the age of the internet. You don't need to get your business in the phone book, right?
In order to appear in search results, the world needs to know you exist. We recommend updating your online listings using Yext.
Yext helps you figure out if your business is listed on Google, superpages.com, Bing, and a host of other sites.
3. Stake Out Social Network Profiles
If you search for most people or businesses online, the first things you'll see are their social media accounts. That means the more accounts you have, the more visibility you've got.
Not sure what I mean? Well, check out what happens when you search for 'Workbar,' a coworking space in Boston. Sure, the company website comes up first, but it's followed by Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, and LinkedIn.
Get yourself listed on Yelp, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin. Fill out information on each of your profiles, even if you don't plan on updating them all the time.
4. Get Other People Talking About You
If you're not in a position to create a great blog, then why not get other people to write about you?
Sure, it's easier said than done, but creating content on your own site isn't the only way to get visibility. I recommend joining Help a Reporter Out (HARO) which connects small businesses with journalists who are writing about them. You'll get an email each day with a list of topics so you can respond with your pitch. Often, I find people to write about using this service!
Of course, you have to do something worth writing about. You might try...
Coming up with a kooky viral video.
Hosting a local event.
Sharing your struggles, successes, and analytics.
Participating in a blogging program like Boston Brunchers (restaurants give away free food to bloggers in exchange for an honest review on their blogs).
If you want to learn more about creating buzz for your business, Read Buzzmarketing by Mark Hughes or check out the chapter on marketing in our most recent guide.
5. Create a Resource or Tool that People Need but Can't Find Elsewhere
Generating helpful resources is one of the ways that businesses get visibility online. Helpful resources get organic traffic, links from other sites, social shares, and are good fodder for PPC and other paid campaigns.
We highly recommend creating a resource that your prospective and current customers can't find elsewhere.
For example, a couple of years ago we created the Ultimate Guide to Startup Competitions. We curate a collection of startup competitions for entrepreneurs and small businesses everywhere. The page gets updated once every six months or so with the latest information.
This page still generates a ton of organic traffic to Grasshopper.com, and we rank #1 on Google when you search 'Startup competition guide.' Huge win!
6. Find Some Partners
Building relationships is key to doing business right, so why not partner up with some other businesses?
This works especially well if the company you partner with has a huge presence online. If they link to your page, you'll reach a new audience, which sends a positive signal to Google.
GrooveHQ put together a Small Business Stack of deals for small businesses. Tons of companies (such as Drip, Stride, and Cyfe) were able to get promoted through this avenue.
Here are a few ways to partner up:
Offer each other's customers an exclusive deal (like $50 off your services).
Create content for each other's websites.
Host an event together.
7. ...And Learn About SEO
Sorry, guys. If you want to be found online, you've got to learn a little about SEO. Google and other search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, so the field of search is always changing.
It's in your best interest to be on top of the trends.
SEO is about a lot more than keywords and links. It's technical, creative, and exciting. Mostly you want to ensure that your site looks good to search engines.
Don't trust some spammy email that says there's a magic key to boosting your visibility. Instead, take an afternoon and read Moz's Beginner's Guide to SEO. It's a free resource and one of my favorites..
Your Turn: What has your business done to get recognized in search results? What would you recommend to other business owners?